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Manhattan Loft Guy

Sep. 15, 2011 - from Flatiron to Soho to Tribeca for serial loft owners with exquisite taste


real estate stalking is not for the squeamish
Regular Manhattan Loft Guy readers know that I am a bit of a voyeur, interested in the choices that people make to buy or sell a loft, and where they go from there (or came from). The notice address on the deed for the sellers of the penthouse loft I hit on Tuesday (September 13, penthouse loft at 17 Greene Street sells at ridiculous (adjusted) value after chopping, chopping) shows the sellers going from a not-quite-prime Soho block (at what I thought was an inexplicably low price) to a nearly-prime Tribeca block (7 Worth Street).

They sold this 3-bedroom “3,200 sq ft” loft in Soho with a “1,500 sq ft” private roof deck that the babble called merely “sensational” but I call drool-worthy. How do you top that?

Turns out that it gets rather complicated, and that these folks are collectors of Manhattan lofts, with at last 3 on their resumes in the last 10 years. My kind of people!

when 3,000 sq ft is just not enough
Turns out that, while they owned the Greene Street penthouse from 2003 (at least, per The Shark) until selling last month, they have also owned a loft in Tribeca since April 2008 (can you spell P E A K?). Here is the April 29, 2008 deed at $5.075mm, which I am pretty certain corresponds to this listing for the top floor loft at 7 Worth Street (“4,750 sq ft” interior, with another “1,500 sq ft” private roof deck). That’s nearly half again as large on Worth Street as the Greene Street penthouse. But it was not in drool-worthy condition when they bought it.

Remember The Peak? These folks paid over $5mm for a renovation opportunity (“You and your architect will enjoy the extraordinary potential of this amazing home!”). That listing has only 2 interior photos, which give a sense of the classic beams and bricks. Through the miracle that is the inter-tubes, here are photos of the space after they got done exploring its potential with an architect (you will recognize the bricks and beams, and archways). The massive brick work gives this loft a different feel than the columns on Greene Street, but these people have pretty exquisite taste.

Having paid $5mm to buy at 7 Worth Street in 2008 (and then, what … another $1.5mm to renovate?) the sequence suggests that they moved there only last year, as the compete listing history recounted in Tuesday’s post shows that the 17 Greene Street penthouse was first offered for sale in February 2010. Of course, that campaign did not work out until last month, so these folks carried two pretty friggin’ spectacular pretty large lofts (each with 1,500 sq ft roof deck) from April 2008 to August 2011.

going back only so far (one more step)
For all I know, these folks have been buying (and renovating!) Manhattan lofts since 1975, but I can only track them back one more step, to the “2,500 sq ft” loft (per our data-base) they sold in August 2004 for $2.375mm, #3E at 222 Park Avenue South. Look again at those numbers: $2.375mm for “2,500 sq ft way back in August 2004. Must have been in pretty spectacular condition, no?

That same loft was later offered for sale for a year just before Lehman, and for another year ending quite recently, without selling. But the listing description was fairly ecstatic:

Luxe for Life. Soaring ceilings, grand dimensions, and uncommon attention to detail intersect in this magnificent home. Featured in Wallpaper* and this Springs New York Magazine design issue, the loft represents a truly accomplished masterwork of design. 9-foot casement windows encourage luminous interplay of sun and shadow on floors of alabaster granite in the open loft space, over 26 feet wide, with gas fireplace. The professional kitchen begs to entertain, with a six-burner Wolf range, two dishwashers and sinks, and plentiful space for wine, dry, and refrigerated storage. The master suite and large dressing closet afford peaceful, separate, and spacious retreat. And bathrooms are fitted with rich materials – travertine, zebra slate, teak, hand-blown glass. Fully wired for sound with individual-room wall controls. Dual-zone central air.


I can’t be sure it was in the same condition when these folks sold it in 2004, but the pix and babble are consistent with how they later lived on Greene Street and on Worth Street.

The sequence works nicely: they had already bought the 17 Greene Street penthouse when they sold 222 Park Avenue South in August 2004, so maybe they were renovating in Soho while living in Flatiron. As we’ve seen, they bought and renovated Worth Street, while owning on Greene Street. Having the resources to carry two lofts at once, while renovating the new one surely makes things easier!

to the light and the outdoors
Apart from the outdoor space in their lofts in Soho and Tribeca, the major difference between those penthouses and the 222 Park Avenue South loft is light. The #3E floor plan has relatively few windows and the pictures show very little light. The “2,500 sq ft” of #3E is not only smaller than Greene Street at “3,200 sq ft” and Worth Street at “4,750 sq ft”, the #3E footprint is very tight, yielding a master suite and only one other (small) bedroom.

a note about the stalking
Obviously, the names of these folks are all over the deed filings I link to, and in that Worth Street photo spread. (If they are celebrities, they are not to me; so far as I know they are civilians.) I choose not to use their names in text here so that I don’t contribute to Google Juice they may not want. A small thing, but still ...

© Sandy Mattingly 2011
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Sep. 10, 2011 - deconstructing NY Times article about combining apartments to increase value


how the Real Estate Industrial complex works, and why it is unhelpful for consumers
Maybe you people are way ahead of me, but I realized something that seems insightful about the unholy alliance between real estate media outlets such as the New York Times and residential brokerage firms after reading (and questioning) tomorrow’s NY Times Sunday real estate section lead piece, Combine and Conquer: Your Place and Mine, by Vivian Toy. The article talks about how combining apartments can be 1 + 1 = 2.5 math; my realization was why this kind of article is too often 1 + 1 = 1.5.

tomorrow's news today!
Here is the money quote from the piece; given my insight, it is no surprise that it is from The Miller, the Real Estate Industrial Complex’s go-to guy for fact-based analysis about the Manhattan market:

Jonathan J. Miller, the president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel, says the 2.5 in the equation is more figurative than literal. “If you have two adjacent apartments and they logically connect to a bigger and better layout,” he said, “it’s not uncommon to see a 20 percent premium on a price-per-square-foot basis. And that’s before the renovations are even done. It’s just the fact that they’re put together.”

To be sure, not all proposed combinations make sense architecturally, but for two units that can easily be merged, Mr. Miller said, buyers are willing to “pay more for the potential to enhance the value.”


if you are a buyer, what do you want to know?
If I were a buyer interested in combining adjoining units, I’d want this article to follow with examples of the “not uncommon” 20% premium. I guess it would be nice for me to know which units are currently offered for sale as combinations (even though I would find that in my search for “4 bedroom apartments” if they were marketed as to-be-combined 4 bedroom apartments), but I would really want to know why there is a premium and when it is operative.

the roll call of those present and absent
The complete roster of other people quoted are:
  • one developer who has sold some large apartments and wants to sell more,
  • two sales agents for new developments who have sold some new large apartments and want to sell more in new developments,
  • one couple who purchased one of the combined large apartments in one of the new developments,
  • one agent “who has several combination listings” now offered for sale,
  • one agent who represents two adjoining apartments at the Dakota now offered for sale,
  • one agent who represents adjoining lofts in Dumbo now offered for sale and both sets of her sellers,
  • two agents who represent each piece of a potential combination apartment now offered for sale,
  • one agent who represents adjoining units with combinable terraces on the Upper East Side now offered for sale, and
  • a mortgage broker about how hard it is for banks to lend into that kind of purchase.

Notice any similarities? See what is missing?

Obviously, I think it significant that nearly everyone quoted is talking about apartments or lofts that are currently offered for sale. Less obviously, perhaps, is that is that there is not a single specific example of the “little-known and somewhat mystifying equation, and that is: 1 + 1 = 2.5”, which is only the thrust of the article.

No one said that the quoted couple who bought the newly combined units at One Grand Army Plaza paid any more for the combined unit than they would have for two units. No one said that the price per foot of already combined closed units in the various new developments exceeds the price per foot of comparable but not combined closed units in the various new developments.

Yes, The Miller can be counted on to support the overall point by noting that “it’s not uncommon to see a 20 percent premium on a price-per-square-foot basis”, but even he was not asked for an example in real life of such a closed sale premium. And, yes, one of the agents opined that “the ideal” way to market adjoining apartments involves making it harder for a buyer to see what the individual pieces are worth individually. Actually, that is not what the agent said, but that is the direct inference of the rationale behind this strategy:

Listing one of the units individually “waters down” the power of the combination, she said, and makes it harder to get as much of a premium, because buyers can see the fair market value of one unit and then “look at the two pieces and argue that they don’t add up to the number you’re asking.”


In other words, with individual units priced to sell in the market: goodbye premium!

not a unicorn, but the dynamic is the dynamic
I don’t doubt that there is such a premium in the right circumstances, as I will explain in a minute. But my basic response to the article started with “sheesh … that’s not very helpful without real past examples”, which led to “why aren’t there real past examples”, which morphed into “no one with the data is motivated to find real past examples”, as the role of the New York Times in the Real Estate Industrial Complex came into focus for me. (Again, this may be obvious to serious fans of Manhattan real estate, but it did not coalesce for me in this way until today.)

Vivian Toy (or any other reporter) does not know where the real life examples are, but maybe she could find some with a great deal of effort. The developers and sales agents for new developments know, but that is not what they really want to talk about. The sales agents with one-off combo listings might or might not know, but that is not what they really want to talk about.

So, in exchange for getting good quotes about the general topic from people who know (or might know), Toy let’s them talk about what they really want to talk about: the currently available listings that offer the potential to combine units to make 2.5. Would it have been rude for her to ask about past examples, to see if the “somewhat mystifying” math can actually be observed in the real world, even if the professionals are principally interested in selling their inventory and only secondarily (if at all) interested in educating the populace? You know, as in a more even exchange of back-scratching than Toy played.

As I mentioned, I believe that this math (or something like it, if not to 2.5) exists, for the reasons stated in the article: mostly, because the market for larger apartments has relatively large demand with relatively small supply (and no significant pipeline of new development supply). As the UES agent said, there is not as much demand and greater supply of 1-bedrooms compared to 3-bedrooms. The 1-bedroom buyers will compare Combo Piece A to other 1-bedrooms (where over-supply lowers prices), and bids accordingly; the 3-bedroom buyers will compare Combo A+B to other 3-bedrooms (where under-supply increases prices), and bids accordingly. When all is in sync, A+B sells for more to one buyer than A would to one buyer and B would to another buyer.

One of the tricks, as indicated by the candid agent, is to avoid the 3-bedroom buyer from putting the ‘wrong’ valuation on A and for B. Another is for the two sellers to present a united front. Imagine this conversation:

Agent: Of course you could buy Apt A at a discount if all you wanted was A, just as you could buy Apt B by itself at a discount. But you can’t buy A+B at a discount because the sellers won’t sell the combo at a discount.


3-BR Buyer: But that’s ridiculous! The Market for A is $xxx and for B is $xxx.


Agent: If you persuade A or B to sell at a discount, how do you then negotiate with B or A when that surviving owner knows you have to overpay to complete your package? How much leverage are you willing to give the surviving seller anyway? Did I mention that there is a 1-BR buyer seriously interested in bidding on Apt A?


3-BR Buyer: grrrrrr …. how much did you say I would have to pay for the two, with simultaneous contracts and closings?

nothing personal
The last time I played with a Vivian Toy piece I went a little overboard, even for a Manhattan Loft Guy post, as I discovered that my blog platform imposes a limit on the length of posts, requiring me to split it in two: my August 22 posts, riffing with Toy + NY Times about higher prices "sprinkled" through Manhattan, including in the loft market (Part 1), and (Part 2) riffing with Toy + NY Times about higher prices "sprinkled" through Manhattan, including in the loft market . Personally, I find her articles informative, but often incomplete. It does not help to have figured out exactly why they are less filling, nor do I expect to impact editorial decisions.

I am just a blogger writing a blog.

© Sandy Mattingly 2011

 

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Nov. 22, 2010 - is this a $625k renovation of a 1,200 sq ft loft at 720 Greenwich Street?


Manhattan Loft Guy report, you decide
The footprint of the “A” line of The Tower in the West Village at 720 Greenwich Street is pretty funky, as Manhattan lofts go. It winds around an obtuse corner (2 exposures!) with enough of some sort of common space at the center that it looks almost like the letter “C”, with the kitchen at the top end, the bathrooms at the bottom tip, and the living room and 2 bedrooms in between. Definitely funky. And, therefore, challenging to modify or renovate.

In the laboratory of the Manhattan loft market, there are two specimens in 720 Greenwich of interest. One sold in July 2009 for $1.075mm. Said to be “1,200 sq ft”, the key marketing factors for the interior of the loft were (a) “a fabulous floorplan” and (b) “Exposed Brick in every room”. I kid you not! Suffice it to say that the typically cynical buyer of Manhattan lofts would assume that this interior space lacks other charms, so may need to be upgraded, if not uprooted.

The other specimen has the same footprint but was coy about size when it sold ten days ago. It was certainly not coy about the many charms of its interior, dropping babble such as “Stunning”, “contemporary gem”, “totally renovated in XXX Mint Condition”, “maple hardwood floors, 9’ custom maple doors, slate window sills”, “honed granite countertops with top-of-the-line appliances and custom maple cabinetry”, “baths [with] travertine marble walls and floors, with a soaking tub and luxurious shower”, “Stereo wired throughout”. That’s a lot of babble for a “1,200 sq ft” loft, but who am I to quibble?

That gem sold for $1.7mm on November 12.

patience, Prudence, patience
(I will pause here while you scroll up to see what the other one sold for, in case you forgot.)

(Still waiting.)

I am highly confident that the seller of #6A did not put over $500/ft into the renovation (the two floor plans are still similar), but that $1.7mm sale price ($1,417/ft) knocks the clearing price of #7A on July 29, 2009 ($1.075mm, $895/ft) nearly back to the stone age.

timing isn’t everything, only part
Of course, this is not a strictly fair comparison because #7A came to market in December 2008 (after nuclear winter of the Manhattan real estate followed the fall of the House of Lehman) and probably did well just to be one of the few that found an April 2009 contract.

Do you think that timing deficit was worth about 10%? If so, #7A should have sold for around $1.2mm. Under that scenario, the implied renovation premium for #6A is only $500,000 ($417/ft). I am also highly confident that the #6A sellers did not pay $416/ft for that renovation.

no more calls, please; we have a winner
But The Market reacted as if they had. The Manhattan Loft Guy fictional award for Most Valuable Renovation this year goes to #6A at 720 Greenwich Street, because I can’t remember a similar implied renovation premium.

Congratulations! You’ve already cashed the prize check.

© Sandy Mattingly 2010

 

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Aug. 27, 2010 - jaw-dropping renovation of a Manhattan loft


so nice, I gotta post twice (today)
I simply could not resist the temptation offered by today's Curbed post, The Future is Now at Transformed Greenwich Village Loft, to probe, to ponder, to track, and ... to drool over the photos. Lover of classic Manhattan lofts I may be (I am, I really am), but this loft renovation is awesome. (Whether it is to your taste or not, there can be no argument that this is one spectacular loft.) So I 'wasted' some time today tracking this beauty down. (And I 'owe' you more August posts.)

Curbed has the links to the architect's web site, to a design blog that has more commentary than is found on the taciturn (discrete?) architect's site, and seven photos and the floor plan. Even if you have been there already today, go back and click back and forth between the text (particularly on Dezeen), the photos and the floor plan to get a good idea of how this loft flows. Not (usually) my cup of tea, but my of my that is one spectacular space. Talk about scrapping the "classic" loft conventions and starting over....

details, and a curious loss
I am not going to out the anonymous art collector, but I can say that in January 2007 he paid $4.6mm for a "5,800 sq ft" full-floor loft. The listing description at that time suggests that the loft needed a great deal of work:

This private full-floor loft is located in the heart of Greenwich Village, just steps from Lower Fifth Avenue. The immense 5,800 space boasts open Village views to the North and South. There are also Eastern windows, which could be enlarged. The apartment currently features a massive central gallery, large master suite and bath, a windowed eat in kitchen, and south facing balcony, which can be expanded. The space lends itself to most any configuration, however, as it has an internal width of 58 and has three exposures.

As you can tell from the photo looking downtown, this loft is high enough to have a clear south view. In this case, the height is high only for a loft building, as there are buildings nearby that are much taller (though they may lack the sight lines of this one). In fact, that view is what convinced me that I had found the right loft. I hope this link comes out all right (and without identifying the building); if you do that thing with your fingers (hands apart but thumbs together, fingers sticking straight up) you can frame this photo to almost exactly the same angle as seen in the fancy architect night-time photo.

The January 2007 seller of this "immense space" had bought it in early 2005 from a guy who had owned it since 1985 and probably did not do too much work in the intervening 20 years. Here is that 2005 listing description:

As prime as downtown gets! This immense private floor loft with epic proportions perched high above the historic village is situated steps off Fifth Avenue. Rarely is such a loft of this size available in such a desirable location. The flexibility of this enormous space can suit a variety of different needs and can make an unparalleled wide open loft or a generous family home. Windows of 3 sides offer excellent light and views. Other features include a massive central gallery, a large master bedroom with a luxurious master bath with steam shower, a windowed eat in kitchen, central air conditioning and an elaborate security system.

In those days, the ceilings were 10'6" and cross-beamed. Even then, the ceilings may have been dropped, as the old listing photos (not publicly available; sorry) show ventilation ducts in the beams and ceiling, and recessed lighting. The 8 structural columns are very much in evidence, framing that "massive central gallery". (In the ooh-la-la renovation, they almost disappear!)

eight million stories, as usual
Unless he always planned to be a(n early!) flipper, something must have happened to that 2005-buyer-turned-2007-seller soon after he bought it. Not only is there no indication that he made any significant upgrades, our data-base shows he was on the market a year after buying for $4.95mm. Too bad for him that he was asking $6.3mm to start, or that he ended up selling to The Anonymous Collector in January 2007 for $350,000 less than he paid. That had to hurt!

I wonder if he reads Curbed or, if he does, if he would recognize his loft from the pictures and description of what The Anonymous Collector and his Dutch architects did to the loft.

Did I mention that this is an absolutely breathtaking renovation??

© Sandy Mattingly 2010

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May. 20, 2010 - 3,000 sq ft Manhattan loft renovated for $250,000


just for floors, kitchen + baths
I stumbled across a Wall Street Journal slide-show in the new trying-to-outdo-The-Times section this week, featuring a Tribeca loft of nearly 3,000 sq ft that had been renovated for $250,000. Of course Manhattan Loft Guy is interested in a loft renovation under $100/ft, but it turns out that the renovation project was pretty limited.

One hint is that they renovation was "month long". They put down a new floor, "enlarged" the kitchen (and re-built it, it seems), and "revamped the bathroom" (with two in the loft, did they touch the second??). With that fairly limited scope, $250k makes more sense for  a high-end job.

I am not going to out this active listing, but it isn't hard for anyone really interested to track it down. I will say that these folks started with a very brag-worthy space when they bought it in 2005, so chances are that their $250k renovation job was pretty limited, indeed:

This is the brightest East West exposure middle floor Penthouse Loft Home on the market & it has it all: @ 2770SF (interior) finished to the nines by the home owner who happens to be a reknowned fashion designer - Marble counters & tile, Stainless Steel professional kitchen appliances; customizable lighting design scheme, Wood burning Fireplace, open LR/DR combo; Master bathroom features: digital temperature controlled six jet steam shower with wooden bench, jacuzzi bathtub with shower, bidet, limestone floors and wainscot (@ 4 high around the bathroom) plus a double Marble sink vanity; Throughout the loft high 12 ceilings, white wood floors, 2 zones CAC, gas fired baseboard hotwater heating system. The sunny, bright & dramatic architecture of this TRIBECA Gem is topped off by more than 1100 SF of outdoor space....


paging Nigel Tufnel
It happens all the time: somebody buys a loft that is "finished to the nines" but wants to take it to eleven. It will be interesting to see how The Market values the renovation, as these folks bought in at $775/ft (assuming it is "2,968 sq ft") in 2005, changed one lovely kitchen for one that is "state of the art" for another $84/ft, and are asking just under $1,200/ft. Given the 2005 condition, I suspect that The Market will not find that the renovation will add a significant (or even a discernable) premium.

© Sandy Mattingly 2010

 

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Apr. 29, 2010 - memo to NY Times: that's a "loft", not an "apartment"


and not in East Village
Check out the slide-show associated with the article in today's NY Times, An East Village Apartment, Sleek and Childproof. Does that look like a "loft" or an "apartment" to you? Yeah, me too: that's a loft. And it is not where I would call it the East Village, but there are probably different opinions on that. (It is just west of Broadway on 13th Street, with city addresses on both 13th Street and on Broadway; Central Village??.) Oh, and it's a condo, not a coop. (Sheesh.)

"some" construction + demolition, at $227/ft

That is one lovely loft. This sentence from the Times today intrigued me:

The renovation, which included some construction and demolition, was completed last year for $425,000, plus $125,000 for the furniture.

That "some" is a tell: this was far from a gut renovation, yet it cost these folks $227/ft. And this is the second time that they have renovated this loft in 5 years.



from white box to split personality to unified, boy-proof loft


These folks bought this loft in 2005, when it was converted to a condo. The sponsor sold these things as white boxes: open space, open

kitchen

, one bathroom. Sometime between their June 2005 purchase and the renovation in today's Times, these folks hired and fired two architects, and created a space they

described

as schizo:



The back of their 1,800-square foot [our data base says "1,875 sq ft"] co-op [condo!] in the East Village was traditional — like a prewar apartment on the Upper West Side — with a long, narrow hallway that led to the three bedrooms and master bathroom. The front felt more like a loft, with one open living and dining space.

Thus, whatever else they did in Round One, they added those three bedrooms and the master bath (the original bathroom was in the middle of the loft, and probably remains). I wonder what that build-out (with two architects come and gone) cost....

bought at $764/ft, now worth under $1,250/ft?
It was not hard to figure out where these folks live. I will not give the address here, but will provide some interesting links from which one can find the building. They paid $1,431,965 in June 2005 (in white box condition, remember). Given their evident taste, they probably spent at least $100,000 for the master bathroom and 3 bedrooms, and any associated build-out, which would be roughly $60/ft. (Perhaps more.)

They've spent another $227/ft on this latest renovation, putting their net investment some where north of $1,050/ft. In strictly economic terms, their beautiful new loft has appreciated in value something under $200/ft. (They also paid $125,000 [$67/ft] for furniture, but they can take that with them when they leave, if they want.)

Their immediately upstairs neighbor paid $1,307/ft for the very un-white-box-like 3-bedroom + 2 bath "triple mint" space in July 2007 (note the ridiculously high ceilings), but evidently this is one building in which values are now lower than 2007 values. (Yes, that is another plug for the most popular Manhattan Loft Guy post of all time, the March 5, data dump: 27 Manhattan lofts sold in 2007 + recently.) Their immediately downstairs neighbor failed to sell in 2009 at a last asking price of $1,250/ft. (That space was also described as triple mint, with 'only' 14 foot ceilings.)

Beautiful loft, beautifully furnished. I wonder how much re-decorating they will do when the 5 and 7 year old boys stop leapfrogging onto the furniture and swinging foam bats at the mirrored wall. That will be Round Three for them.

© Sandy Mattingly 2010


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Mar. 8, 2010 - psst! wanna see a million dollar renovation? 55 East 11 Street just closed

 

(more or less)
The Manhattan loft 55 East 11 Street #3 just closed (a week ago!) and will eventually be added to my cumulative list of lofts with paired resales (March 5, data dump: 14 Manhattan lofts sold in 2007 + recently). If I were to update that list of resales today from 14 to 15, this one would be at the top of the list, as the new price is 44% higher than the 2007 sale.

Given that this loft sold in 2007 as "an excellent opportunity to create [your] own space" and this year as "painstakingly renovated and transformed into a one-of-a-kind piece of art" it is a difficult puzzle to determine how much of that difference was due to the renovation and how much to general market change. In round numbers, it is possible that the 2007 buyers added a million dollars in value by renovating so painstakingly.

paging Burgess Meredith
I did not know there was a loft building in Manhattan called The Penguin House, but that is the name for 55 East 11 Street. (Where did that come from?, I wonder.) The 3rd floor was said to be "2,325 sq ft" when it sold on January 31, 2007, though with the 2009 listing Sothebys is typically close-mouthed about the size of a cooperative loft. As mentioned, it was sold then as a candidate for renovation and now, fully transformed, into that a "one-of-a-kind piece of art", and "real rustic splendor". Features include:  a "windowed gourmet chef's kitchen [with] concrete counters, custom cabinetry and counter-top dining for 5"; a "double-size master suite ... [with] stunning spa bath"; "custom steel and glass doors"; and central air. The highly experienced and very credible selling agent can't contain her enthusiasm, concluding: "It doesn't get better than this. A truly special find."

March comes in like a lion (watch out for changing animals)
The loft closed on March 1 (a speedy deed filing for a Manhattan sale!) at $2.8mm. Using "2,325 sq ft", that's $1,204/ft, compared to $839/ft when it sold January 31, 2007 for $1.95mm.

It is fascinating to wonder how much of that difference of $365/ft is due to the renovation, and how much is from an overall market change from One Year Before Peak to Two Years After Peak. Though one should not assume that every dollar of renovation cost generates a dollar of increased value, I would love to know what it cost to transform this space from " opportunity" to "rustic splendor" slash "one-of-a-kind piece of art" slash "truly special".

Whatever they spent, it is conceivable that they added nearly a million dollars in value to this loft in doing that renovation. Do yourself a favor and use that little magnifying glass thingy on the StreetEasy photos to get a good view of the pix.

 

© Sandy Mattingly 2010

 

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Sep. 3, 2009 - new loft price needs to be justified


asking 20% more for 2006 mints??
When I first saw the listing description for a Manhattan loft brand new to market (chock full of mints, renovation news, adverbs and adjectives) I assumed that it is priced almost 20% above the 2006 clearing price because all of the broker bragging was about new elements that had not been priced into the 2006 transaction. Silly me.

But listen to some of the babbling done by a different firm in 2006:
 

pristine design ... sophisticated elegance ... stunning loft .... Featured in [omitted] Magazine ... masterful appointments ... [omitted] architectural detail ... distinctive custom finishes ... bright windowed chef's kitchen features top of the line appliances ....

The new listing description is remarkably similar to the old one. The floor plans are identical, 2006 and 2009. But the kitchen photos show that the old chef's kitchen with those top of the line appliances has been changed. Looks like new cabinets (which now get proper proper names) and the cooking elements have been increased, and moved. Doesn't look to me like $300k worth of upgrades, however....



unsolicited advice

I got into

a discussion on StreetEasy earlier this week

started by a guy who believes that sellers should have to prove the renovations they did, in the interest of greater "transparency". In my first contribution to that thread I talked about having represented an apartment for sale that was priced

way

above a very recent very nearby comp, for which we justified the premium by the quality of the renovation. In that case, I had before-and-after photos and contractor bills and materials to prove how much money got poured into that place. (In fact, that seller spent way too much money to create a very personal space; more money than she could have hoped to recover from a buyer who did not share exactly her taste.) My broker-babble there posed the challenge directly: "An exquisite renovation that is priced accordingly. Your only question may be 'does it match my taste?'"



For this loft, I assume the 2006-buyer-turned-2009-seller premises some of the premium on the new kitchen elements. If so, that seller may have to prove the value of that improvement. Otherwise, adding nearly 20% to a 2006 clearing price is not likely to be a successful marketing strategy.




© Sandy Mattingly 2009

 
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Aug. 10, 2009 - bidding war erupts VERY late, as 49 Warren St gut job closes



caution: follow all StreetEasy links
This one is weird.... I began this post in my mind with a headline like "pricing it VERY right at 49 Warren Street" because the StreetEasy listing associated with the closed sale of this loft on July 29 begins on June 6 at $1.3mm, with an apparent contract on June 20 and a clearing price of $1.375mm. That would have been very quick work, pretty much figuring out The Market exactly.

late night TV
But wait, there's more! There's another listing associated with this Manhattan loft, showing that the loft has really been on the market with the same agent since September and took three price drops from $1,852,200 (huh??) to get to $1.3mm before that agent (and this listing) changed firms.

It is "1,510 sq ft"" of bring-your-architect space in a Long-and-Narrow footprint, with the suggestion that "platforms and internal walls can come down". How primitive is it? "No heating system but ductwork done." (Haven't seen that level of primitive in many years!)
 
fun with funny numbers
Once they figured out after 5 months that the very odd asking price of $1,852,200 was not going to work, they dropped in February to $1.485mm, in March to $1.385mm, and in April to $1.3mm. From there it took another month to reach an agreement, but in that month it looks as though a bidding war broke out.

Someone who evidently had not made an offer off of the $1.385mm asking price in March or April ended up agreeing to pay $1.375mm four weeks after the price had been dropped to $1.3mm. I bet that the seller was (pleasantly!) surprised.
 
Figuring a rough ballpark number of $200/ft to do a complete build out of this "1,510 sq ft" space, these buyers will (eventually) have a lovely loft with high tin ceilings in an old saddle factory for a bit under $1,100/ft. Maybe a loft as lovely as the neighbors in #4E, who paid $1.9mm last December for a "spectacular" loft with central air on the identical footprint to #3E. (#4E previously traded in January 2005 at $1.26mm, presumably before being made "spectacular".)


© Sandy Mattingly 2009
 
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Jul. 31, 2009 - why isn't a Tribeca premium renovation worth at least 250/ft?


a distraction?
You'd think that a stem-to-stern high quality renovation of a Manhattan loft would both (a) cost and (b) be worth at least $250/ft, wouldn't you? There is a loft in prime Tribeca that was gutted after being purchased in April 2007 right around $1,000/ft and is now being offered for sale around $1,250/ft. The renovation is pretty spectacular (more on that below). The asking price has not worked (yet) after a couple of months, but seems a reasonable beginning to a negotiation that should sell this thing around (maybe a little less than) the 2007 value, adjusting for the value of the renovation. Which makes me wonder if The Market is -- in this case -- unwilling to pay for the renovation because it is distracted. (I believe there is a market for quality.)

verbiage of value
I am a big fan of detailed bragging -- when there is something worth bragging about. This loft is being marketed with very detailed bragging (proper proper names, materials, custom features), all of which seems worthy. The description is much more detailed than this experienced and professional listing agent usually provides, which is by itself an impressive feature to close readers of broker-babble. Given the proper proper names, materials, and evident craftsmanship in the work, I would be shocked if this renovation cost less than $250/ft and could well have been much more. (For my post about ball-parking a renovation at $200/ft, see especially the comments from December 10, 2007 need renovation stories / a reader writes for help.) To repeat (again) (he said redundantly) this is not a "basic" gut job.

not buying it (yet)
A couple of months on the market does not mean that the current asking price won't work, but it clearly has not worked yet. Why not? The 2007 clearing price was $1,000/ft; the 2009 asking price is $1,250/ft. Buyers are undoubtedly using their own standards to assess whether the April 2007 value should be adjusted down, and by how much, but I wonder if they are getting hung up on how to value the work that has been done since. Even if you estimate a 10% reduction in value from April 2007 to now, I suspect that one could prove that the renovation cost enough to justify the current ask (i.e., $350/ft, or more). Certainly you'd be in the ballpark to attract an offer from the $1,250 asking price on any reasonable (to me) assumptions about the change in market values 2007-to-2009 and the worth of the renovation.

show the cost?
There may well be a difference between what an owner paid to renovate and what The Market thinks the renovation is worth on resale. But this one has not moved yet and any reasonable (to me) spread between Cost and Value should not preclude a bid from this asking price. Let me make something explicit about my read of the renovation: sometimes people over-improve a space, adding features, finishes or materials that no one else would possibly see as "worth it". This is not that loft. I see value in what has been added, not vanity.

I wonder if they have thought about showing interested buyers the cost of the renovation. I sold an apartment once that we priced about 20% higher than a very recent sale of the very same floor plan one floor above. We priced it there because the seller wanted to get her money back from a rather (to be generous) idiosyncratic renovation. (She actually wanted to price it much higher, because she had spent a ton of money, but was prevailed upon to moderate -- a bit.) We faced up to the obvious challenge directly, telling people the price was justified by the (Low) Comp Plus The Renovation and providing details about materials and costs. We sold at a slight discount from ask to a buyer who (obviously) agreed that the renovation added sufficient value to justify the price. (For what it is worth, it also appraised appropriately.)

Maybe this loft should be marketed with a folder of drawings, specs and receipts. Or maybe they should just be patient, as some buyer out there is likely to appreciate what they have done and may have the scratch to pay appropriate value for it. FAS-cin-ating.


© Sandy Mattingly 2009

 
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Jul. 27, 2009 - if you don't build it will they come? buy + build opportunity


how does $830/ft sound if you have to build?
There's a Manhattan loft (fairly) newly for sale that caught my eye as a potential test of one of the limits that is more limiting in the current market than in prior markets: selling a space that will need substantial (if not gut) renovation. With mortgage money much tighter and down payments needing to be much larger, the funds needed to renovate typically come out of liquid assets, instead of being financed. Fewer buyers have the scratch to buy and to build.

This loft is not quite big enough to test another one of the limits that is more limiting in the current market than in prior markets: less than "3,000 sq ft", it is not as big as some of the BIG lofts that comprise a smaller niche than in previous markets. But the need to renovate should be enough of a test.
 
not so good, as it turns out
In this case, the test is harder because they are asking about $830/ft in a building in which the only two sales in 2008 were at $900/ft and $850/ft. Worse, a higher floor unit did not sell over three months this spring at about $830/ft, despite boasting the proverbial chef's kitchen.
 
No ... not a good test at all, once I saw the past history of sale and non-sale. (Funny how listings that look interesting can lose their glow when you see some building history.) I will have to find another buy-and-build to track to really test this limitation....

 

© Sandy Mattingly 2009
 
 
 
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Jul. 24, 2009 - whose renovation is it anyway? the resale question

CW vs. MLG
I had an off-line dialog with a Manhattan Loft Guy reader about his renovation plans. His question was whether using privacy glass that can be shaded at the push of a button (as used in the Manhattan loft at 315 West 36 Street that recently sold) instead of conventional walls in the 2d bedroom and 3rd bedroom / office might negatively impact resale value if they look to sell in four or five years. The general question is a common one, particularly for loft owners who want to upgrade and who have particular taste.

I told him that my personal view goes against the Conventional Wisdom. CW is that renovations should be done with re-sale in mind, and in a way that will appeal to the broadest category of Future Potential Buyers. The MLG view is that you should live in a space that gives YOU the most pleasure.

Obviously, there are various questions of degree. The longer you will be there the more idiosyncratic you can be; and idiosyncrasy that can quickly / easily / cheaply reversed is different from love-it-or-gut-it space.

who would not like Magic Walls?
In his case, replacing sheet-rocked walls with privacy glass would open up a loft that gets a lot of light in the the bedrooms that otherwise does not reach the main living area -- a huge improvement to their enjoyment of the space. Is there a significant downside to making this change?

I don't know about the engineering in these walls, but the loft owner does not feel that the glass walls will make noise in the lofty more of an issue for his family. I assume that this might be an issue for some families, but I really don't know if these walls are more porous for sound than sheet-rocked walls. If they are, there are probably low-cost work-around for that problem that don't interfere with the benefits (drapes should absorb sound, be portable, and cost relatively little, for example; there are probably other solutions).

Are his hypothetical-2014 buyers going to be turned off by these sometimes-clear-sometimes-opaque walls? Darned if I know ... but my guess is that enough people will appreciate both the light and the aesthetic of these walls for resale issues not to be a serious impediment. If I am wrong, and these walls dramatically increase the difficulty of a sale in 2014, the cost of replacing them with conventional walls should not be large.

how reversible are the idiosyncratic renovations?
Projects that are more expensive or more difficult to un-do might present a more difficult quandary. For example, the matched set of lofts that I discussed in a July 1 post ((too rich, too thin) too stylish to sell (well)?) probably include an example of a very cool renovation (to the owners, and to me) that appears to have impacted market value rather dramatically. Whether it is 'worth it' or not for the still-owners-but-want-to-be-sellers, I have no idea. (When that does sell I will talk about that renovation specifically, so you can see what I am talking about.)

I described those two lofts in ice cream terms, one being an expensive vanilla, the other a very exotic spicy flavor:

 No disrespect intended to the loft that sold (to the contrary, it sold), but that one has a conventional layout to carve 3 bedrooms (plus additional space) out of a Long-and-Narrow with good light at each end, and is done in entirely neutral tones (white walls, white kitchen, light finish on the hardwood floors, light stone in the bathrooms). It is something of a poster child for being in "sale-able" condition -- using a palette that all buyers could easily envision to base their own lifestyle on if they bought that space. The degree to which this one is neutral is perhaps best appreciated by reference to the other one (The One That Has Not Sold [yet]).

The One That Has Not Sold (yet) gives one entire end of the loft to the master suite and squeezes a (proportionately) tiny guest room into the other end. Like the one that sold, this one has a white ceiling -- but otherwise is a (comparative) riot of color and texture, with many vertical surfaces in dark shades, a dark finish on the floor, and rather dramatic design elements (oh that bathroom!). Plus, there are curves and arcs where the other one had straight lines and right angles. The color, layout and 'design' differences between the two are so dramatic that there are probably few people who would be conflicted in choosing one or the other, assuming rough dollar parity.

I'd say that the most 'dangerous' style choice that those sellers made in their renovation was creating a very dramatic bathroom. I hope they still love it, but there will certainly be many people who will not bid because they don't want to take on a complete bathroom renovation after buying a perfectly usable bathroom; other people will use that 'defect' to chip, chip, chip away at the value of an offer.

My point is that loft owners should not be cowed by the Conventional Wisdom into using only neutral colors and materials. They should consider the joy and utility for them as owners for however many years they will be in the space, instead of simply predicting what future fashion will be (as if that were simple!). After all, there are still lofts that sell with glass brick walls, which was 'fashionable' from about June 1982 though October 1986.

You are, of course, free to disagree, especially if you are a loft owner contemplating renovation.

[update July 25: Tomorrow's New York Times Real Estate section feature 'On The Market' includes a pretty awesome modern loft, noting as a "con" that "the customized design might not suit some buyers".  While I think that is true, it is about the same as saying about a "classic" loft, "the classic features might not appeal to some buyers". From the perspective of this post, the more interesting design choice -- and one that really limits the resale market -- was converting to a 1 bedroom.

To me, it is a spectacular 1 bedroom, but it seems to have some trouble finding a buyer. And the 1 BR decision is not so easily reversed. My quick glance suggests that anyone wanting to make a 'real' 2 bedroom out of this space would have to make such radical changes in the layout as to make it impractical. You'd be changing some of essential items that make this loft as cool as it is.

As always, YMMV. But I could not resist the urge to use this very timely NYT example of the issue in this post: whose renovation is it anyway? / the resale question.]

© Sandy Mattingly 2009

 

 

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Mar. 20, 2009 - gutting Broome Street for $160/ft


bringing light but hiding windows?
Yesterday's New York Times On Location Home & Garden feature Bringing Light to a New York Loft profiled a Broome Street total renovation ("gutted to its floor joists and beams and totally rebuilt -- with plumbing, electricity and other systems"). The loft is a classically Long-and-Narrow with ceilings high enough to stack guest rooms over the kitchen and baths. The Times headline is a play off the fact that the space had been very dark (with a rabbit warren of rooms and black paint) but is a weird angle to take about a renovation project that essentially cuts off a lot of light.

The architect's website has another set of photos, the soho loft residential project, with this description of the project:

A "functional wall" was created along one side of the 16' high ceilinged space to house the bathrooms, laundry room and kitchen below and the guest rooms and extra storage above. The layout included new landmarks approved windows, plumbing, electrical, finishes, etc. Walnut panels and blackened steel windows and doors delineate the different spaces and create the new rooms.
 (Curiously, the Times reported the ceiling height as 14 feet.)

It took me a while in reading the pictures in the Times and on the architect's website before I realized where the long wall of windows that is evidentfrom the building photo (#2 of 11 in the Times slide show) is. Perhaps distracted by the Times headline, I assumed that part of the architect's challenge was to bring light into the space from the narrow ends (the living space in Times slide 5 and the master bedroom in slide 6 are depicted much better on the Kelloggwebsite in pix 1, 2 and 5 -- those are huge windows at either end). Slide 10 from the Times shows some kind of storage, evidently behind that "functional wall" with a different size window than the living room or bedroom windows -- indicating that that functional wall blocks the main spaces from the side windows.

For some reason, the owner and architects decided to put that functional wall on the long wall of windows rather than along the brick wall opposite the long wall of windows. An interesting choice that was not motivated by a desire to "bring light into the loft".
 
surprising cost
This is the second-most surprising fact reported in the Times: "Gutted to its floor joists and beams, it took just five months to build, and cost $320,000." For a loft reported as 2,000 square feet, that is a mere $160/ft! I bet Diana Kellogg's phone is ringing off the hook....
 
surprising usage
The most surprising fact reported by the Times is in this sentence: "he bought his new loft for $1.5 million in 2006, it presented a grim face, having been painted black and honeycombed, S.R.O.-style, with homemade rooms the previous owner rented out". I am not surprised by the 2006 price of $750/ft for a raw Soho loft, but by the fact that this small coop building (it has been a coop since 1981) permitted theprevious owner to rent out little rooms as late as three years ago. Very weird.

 

© Sandy Mattingly 2009  

 

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Feb. 27, 2009 - lipstick on a pig, or, buying an overdone ($1mm?) remodel


'pig' is a metaphor, of course
What if you bought a Manhattan loft with not much light and low ceilings, and put a ton of money into it -- really jazzing it up in decidedly not neutral tones -- then decided to sell within 3 years of purchase? How confident would you be of recovering your purchase price and added cost?

In the case of a loft new to market on the fringe of a prime loft neighborhood, the buyers-turned-remodelers-turned-sellers are asking more than $500/ft on top of what they paid. That would make it some upgrade, and a stretch for this building (based on past sales).

one of 8,000,000 stories
This is quite a spectacular loft, actually. But not one that will match the tastes of many people -- so much so that it is obvious that these folks planned to stay a while. (Unless they subscribed to that very old-fashioned notion that money just doesn't matter.) I have no idea what they paid to remodel, especially as the mechanical and other systems were new when this condo was converted earlier this century. But I am very curious about what it cost, as the asking price is 175% of what they paid within 3 years.

shrinking the market
Of course, anything that reduces the depth of the pool of potential buyers will reduce the odds of getting the best price and increase the odds that it will take longer to sell. However spectacular (seriously, it is very dramatic, and all tricked out with toys for boys and for girls), this loft is working against competition that is more central with a less funky street vibe, that has higher ceilings, 'loft' character, and more natural light. They may be down to looking for one of very few possible buyers.

have to, or 'want' to?
If they find themselves in the position that they have to sell, they are trying to thread a very narrow needle at this price. If they have the 'luxury' of time, they are more likely to find that one right buyer, but time (in this market) is probably working against them. Obviously, I am feeling that this is much too pushy for this market, but if that (mythical?) European all-Euro buyer with exactly the right taste arrives and falls in amore it just might work. I remain intrigued by sellers who want to be compesnated for the pain and expense of seriously upgrading a loft (as with yesterday's post, how much is that renovation in the window?).

Let's watch.

 

© Sandy Mattingly 2009  

 
 
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Oct. 10, 2008 - what springs eternal? hope, renovation, or ...hubris?


careful post about a new listing
Yeah, I know I am not supposed to blog about current listings from other firms (if you're new here, check out end of an era for Manhattan Loft Guy / a new day dawns? from April 9 for that story), so I will do this carefully and cryptically. (And ethically.)

I came across a new Manhattan loft listing recently that looked kind of familiar. Our ever-so-irritating inter-firm data base shows that this condo loft had been on the market in 2007 at around $1,200/ft but was "permanently off the market" in the Summer of 2007. Now it is 'new' with a different firm and agent at over $1,400/ft. Hmmm ... that seems a bit brassy, doesn't it?

not so brassy, but what happened here?
Further digging in city records showed that the loft had not been 'taken off the market' last Summer, but had actually sold. For about $1,100/ft. Which seemed brassier still, until I checked the pix and descriptions from the new listing against the old one -- the loft has definitely been renovated. City records show a building permit having been issued soon after the sale data for a job estimated to be $30,000 that is probably for this unit, though the renovation looks far more extensive than that.

what did they spend?
So instead of doing a blog post along the lines of what-were-they-thinking?, as originally drove me, this will just be  a note that I will track this listing with interest. I hope that it sells so that I can explain this better, but for now I can only wonder how much they put into the unit in renovation to seek to generate more than $300/ft over last Summer's purchase price.

This sounds like one of those eight million stories (perhaps of the Lehamn Brothers variety?): happy buyers acquire cool loft at a bit of a discount from the asking price, then immediately set out to do a major renvoation (the condition when they bought it was ceratinly more than 'live in' based on the prior listing description, but apparently not what they envisioned). Then ... something happened and off to market they go.

Interesting times, no?

© Sandy Mattingly 2008
 
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Dec. 10, 2007 - need renovation stories / a reader writes for help


how far could $150/ft go?
A faithful reader wrote in off-line asking for help in ball-parking the potential renovation expense in buying a loft that would need a lot of work.

More precisely, he said:

I have mostly been looking at recently refurbished apartments, but have recently expanded my search to include apartments that would require either partial or full renovations. Like everyone, I like nice finishes, but my tastes are not extravagant. I think the finishes on this apartment are about what I would be looking for - certainly nice, but not over the top. http://www.corcoran.com/property/listing.aspx?Region=NYC&ListingID=1041451. [that is #3A at 16 Hudson Street]

Based on your experience, could you tell me what range of cost I could expect to gut renovate a traditional loft in Tribeca? Do you think it would be possible to do nicely (but once again, not extravagantly) for $150 / sq. ft. for a 1750 sq. ft. loft ($250K in total)? Kitchen, two bathrooms, central air, etc.

Also, if you have any architects whose work you really recommend for something like this, I'd be grateful for the recommendation.

My response (below) won't be as helpful to him as Actual Information from Actual Loft Renovators. Anyone care to share facts about what they spent on a renovation, or what they were quoted?

I told him: "Short story is that you *can* do a renovation for a buck and a half per foot, *depending*…. The quotes I have seen for installing central air (assuming it is do-able at all, and the compressor doesn't have to go on the roof) were less than $50k for less than 2,000 sq ft. I find that kitchens are often easier (cheaper) than baths - that's where The Big Money will go. The rest is cosmetics, up to the limit of your budget, with built-ins and fancy stuff if there's room."

And I gave him the contacts for 2 loft architects I know.


(C) Sandy Mattingly 2007

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Oct. 14, 2007 - combo job at 8 W 13 needs answers


Unit "9FRW" at 8 West 13 Street does not exist yet, but will exist after someone buys these adjoining units and combines them, after paying perhaps as much as the $2.495mm asking price (with maintenance of $1,505/mo).

As presented by Corcoran, the combination will be an unknown number of square feet, with 2 baths and 3 bedrooms. It is not surprising to see an offering for a combination with no interior pictures (assume you will gut the whole thing) but maybe you would keep a kitchen or bathroom - and wouldn't you want to know the footprint? Wouldn't you want to know where the plumbing is so you know if you can add bathrooms?? Wouldn't you want to know which walls should come down to meld the spaces???

Digging only a bit reveals an "F" unit currently for sale with pictures and floor plan and a "RW" unit recently sold, with web pix and floor plan still on line. Elise Ward of PruDE is representing #2F, which is "1,100 sq ft" of a "renowned designer's own home featured in multiple architectural publications", asking $1.5mm and $818/mo for all that renown. (I hit it when it came to market, on July 9:
min to the (small) max / new at 8 W 13, when reader Jess outed that renowned designer.)

Unit 4RW was sold through Gabriella Winter and Alex Nicholas of Corcoran in August (for $991,700 after 10 months on the market) as "1,100 sq ft" of architecturally designed quiet space, so it looks as though the combination of an F and RW should yield 2,200 sq ft. I have trouble visualizing the layout of such a combination from the floor plans on the two listings, but others may find that easier. But it surely would be nice if you could see the foot print of "#9FRW" to assess where the combination would be, how the combo might flow, and how much flexibility the plumbing stacks provide. Sigh….

Interesting that #8F sold in January 2006 for $1.1mm - above the $995k asking price - as a bring-your-architect special. But for that sale, I would look at offering "#9FRW" for $2.495mm as a 2,200 sq ft combo that (probably) needs a total gut job as a big stretch. It is probably still a stretch, just not as far, for that fairly small set of buyers who would rather create their own space than buy someone's else's idea of a beautiful loft.

Even those buyers are going to want more information, nonetheless.

© Sandy Mattingly 2007
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Jul. 29, 2007 - loft pioneering as late as 1998 / 62 Orchard St NY Times Habitats feature

 
story + back story from the Lower East Side
Fascinating article in Sunday’s Habitats section of the NY Times real estate section about a California couple who found “exactly the vision of what we thought a New York City loft would be”, A Loft Built on Vision and Sweat.
 
As with so many happy loft stories, this couple had the guts to take a shot in a ‘fringe’ area, they got a bit lucky, they had a vision, and they invested a huge amount of sweat equity. One result provides the punch line (and last line) of the article: the friends who declined to join with them to buy a dilapidated and under-utilized seven-story Lower East Side building (only the ground floor was being used when they saw it): less than a year after they bought it
“They [the friends] stood and gaped,” Ms. Weinstock said. “They were like, ‘Why didn’t you tell us it could look like this?’ ”
 
A little research reveals that these folks live at 62 Orchard Street – between Hester and Grand, you can’t get much more Lower East Side than that. They formed a coop with the original building owner and four other pioneers, then set out to build the loft they envisioned (the ‘before’ picture is here; ‘after’ is here). Their 3rd floor 2,400 sq ft cost $275,000 to buy in 1998, gave the rest of their money ($35,000) to a contractor who then fled the country, and ended up doing the demolition and renovation themselves.
 
“Our existence was this: we’d come home from our jobs at 6 or 7 and work until midnight. Then we’d go down to the local bar and have a Scotch and a cigarette. I don’t even smoke! It was just our ritual, the one moment of the day we could look forward to.”
 
Not many people have the combination of courage, motivation and skills to pull off this kind of project, then or now. Kudos to them!
 
It almost seems tacky to assess the market value of what they have accomplished, so perhaps it is fortunate that there are no recent sales in the building to provide comps. The only sale I see was the 4th floor four years ago, which had an asking price of $1.25mm.
 
© Sandy Mattingly 2007
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Sandy Mattingly is Manhattan Loft Guy; now with The Corcoran Group (http://corcoran.com/ ; but see the disclaimer at the bottom of the page), he can be reached most easily at Sandy@ManhattanLoftGuy.com or 917.902.2491, and followed on Twitter @ManhattnLoftGuy (note "mis-spelling"). After 7+ years, the blog has moved. Links here on RealTown will work for the foreseeable future, but new posts (and all the old content) has migrated to ManhattanLoftGuy.com.

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